Homeschooling simply- our first year is something I never thought I would say, something I never thought I would do, but here we are. We have been in prayer about this for the whole school year. There are a lot of things we started not liking about the public school system anymore. We live in a very small conservative town, and so school was great for our kids for a long time. My husband was homeschooled for middle school, but went to public for the rest. I was in private school for most of my childhood, and then public for high school. So we have had many different experiences with school. Things have changed a lot in the past several years, and with the older kids going into middle school things were very different. So with a lot of prayer, we decided to homeschool, the next step was deciding a curriculum.
Picking a Curriculum
It definitely requires putting blinders on and not looking at all the stuff that’s available. It’s difficult to not get swayed in a million directions when looking at it all. I definitely did a lot of research, and still am unsure. I am so thankful to all the moms that I reached out, that have given me great wisdom and advice. Most of the moms that I talked to were using the Charlotte Mason method. There were a few using Masterbooks or The Good and The Beautiful, and we almost used some of those. We decided to go with the Charlotte Mason method.
The curriculum we decided to use for Charlotte Mason method is going to be a mix between Ambleside, and a few other things thrown in. I am using the Ambleside website schedule template though. This website was helping for showing us how to schedule our kids subjects throughout the week. We have 3 grade levels to cover 2nd, 6th, and 7th grade. Our oldest son has high functioning autism, and making sure he is comfortable with our choices is priority to me. I am starting this year with having the kids do most of their subjects together. The only ones that will be different are Math and Reading. They will have the opportunity to choose what they would like to read. So here are the subjects and which books we are using:
For math this year we are using the Simply Charlotte Mason arithmetic book 2 for our 2nd grader. I also got book 3, because he is highly skilled in math and I suspect he will advance to the 3rd book quite quickly. Our 6th and 7th grader will be doing Teaching Textbooks. I have heard great things about it from several moms, and decided that an online math course would be a great option for our older two, who are very used to the public school math system.
For History we are using several books, most of them recommended by Ambleside online. I am trying to incorporate things that would work for the older kids as well as our 2nd grader for this one. We will be using 4 books, because Charlotte mason recommended learning a few different histories in one year. We are using A History of England, A Child’s History of the World, This Country of Ours, and Stories from the History of Rome.
Science was another category that Charlotte Mason recommended going over several different sciences for each year. The books we are using are The Mystery of the Periodic Table, The Great Astronomers, It Couldn’t Just Happen, and Architecture, as well as The Elements.
The older kids technically do not need to do handwriting at their age anymore, but because they never learned cursive, because the public school does not teach it for very long. They will be doing cursive handwriting while our 2nd grader does a regular handwriting book. All of these we just got from amazon. I feel like handwriting is self explanatory so we just got a cheap book.
We will be doing one book of poetry per semester. The focus is not to finish the books, but just to get the kids familiar with poetry and different poets. The first book is Favorite Poems Old and New by Ferris Weisgard and the 2nd book will be The Song of Hiawatha by Longfellow.
For art we are looking at one famous painter per semester, and these will be very short lessons. The kids can look at one painting from this artist each week, and we will study it and maybe try to paint like the artist. No book is needed for this, but we will be using paint and paper.
For Bible we using the Bible. We will be reading a couple verses each day alternating between the old and New Testament. We are going to start with Genesis, and Matthew. So that will be really great for the kids.
We are going through several books for English and Literature as we finish them of course. The first one is the Hobbit, Heidi, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Pilgrims Progress. We may not finish all of these, but we will see. If not we will continue on with them later.
The Charlotte Mason Method recommends that you sing or read hymns. We will be doing one hymn per month. This will help the kids to get familiar with each hymn. This I am looking forward to, because hymns are not sung at a lot of churches today.
This is something Charlotte Mason recommended, and we will just listen to a different composer each month most likely. This will be something sprinkled in. I played the piano, and the violin growing up so this will be fun for me.
Doing a lot of outdoor time for PE, but also my husband is pretty skilled in exercises, and will most likely help the kids do things like push ups, sit ups, lungs, and so on.
Another recommended thing by Charlotte Mason is to do a foreign language. We are choosing to do Spanish this year. The older kids are also supposed to do Latin, but we will incorporate that next year. We want to ease everyone into it. I have a book called Speaking Spanish by Charlotte Mason we will use, and also we will use some online materials. Spanish will be fun for the kids, because their grandpa and their great grandparents speak it.
This one will no doubt be my oldest son’s favorite class. It is where we will go outside for awhile and study nature. The book we will use is Life and Her Children, and then we will be using some paper and paint, coloring stuff to just paint or draw what we saw. Lots of learning about bugs will happen with this I am sure. My son is even more knowledgeable in the area of bugs than I am.
The book will be reading to introduce the kids to Shakespeare is called Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.
We are using the Elementary Geography book by Charlotte Mason as well as the Outdoor Geography book by Hatch. We will most likely switch between these each day.
So I know that it definitely seems like a lot of subjects, but Charlotte Mason only recommended doing school for no longer than 3 hours per day. We are going to start in the morning and try to be done at lunch time. I am sure we will be flexible with this on certain days, but the kids and I both thrive on schedule so we will try to do this as best as we can.
The rough schedule that we will be doing is every day we will do Bible, and Math, and History. For Literature we will be changing it up each day between our regular reading to poetry, too Shakespeare. Our handwriting, composer study, and art will be studied on a loop each day so each day will be one of those. PE and Spanish will be on a loop as well, and we will do one of those per day. Nature Study and Geography will also be on a loop.
Each Friday we will be taking off, and so we will only be going to school Monday – Thursdays. My plan for Friday’s is to plan some sort of activity such as a field trip or going outside, playdate of some sort with other home schoolers.
One of the things I really liked is that Charlotte Mason incorporates the Bible, Nature, and short lessons in her curriculum. She encourages a lot of reading, but focuses on narrating back things that we read to imprint into your brain. Narration is a huge part of her homeschooling method. The kids will be doing oral narration at first, and then be encouraged to do written. I love that she does not have you do a lesson for longer than 30 minutes, and some like Bible or Art are only 15 minutes long each day. These short lessons encourage your child to learn better, because they don’t have to sit for long periods of time.
This is the goal of course, and if we need to make changes I am sure we will. We are very nervous and excited to start our new year. This being our first year homeschooling comes with a lot of pressure from all the sides. So I will be glad to just get started. I hope this is helpful to you. The one great thing about the Ambleside curriculum is that it is all free. You can also get a lot of the books online or free online. We did purchase some books, but we will most likely do part of our books online and part physical books.
I am making our materials very simple. They will have one book for narrations, and one for art. We will have crayons, colored pencils, markers, and paint. We will also play some games, and include some maps for geography.
Our Simple Homeschool
Having our homeschool be a Godly focused, as well as a nature and book focused homeschool is definitely a priority for me. This curriculum is definitely a fit for all those categories. I plan to do lessons outside a much as we can, but also incorporate our environment and field trips as much as I can. One of the things the private school I went to did that I loved, and remember the most, is all the adventures and field trips we went on. We went camping a lot, skiing, bird banding, bike riding, learned how to build fires, went to museums, and festivals. We saw Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, the beach, Washington D.C, the Holocaust museum, Civil War Museums, and played a lot of concerts with our violins. My only hope is to give my children as great of an experience in their education as this. This is truly what they will remember.